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Pakistan Journal of Nutrition 8 (1): 90-95, 2009

ISSN 1680-5194
Asian Network for Scientific Information, 2009

The Effect of Moisture Content on Physical Properties of Wheat

M. Karimi, K. Kheiralipour, A. Tabatabaeefar, G.M. Khoubakht, M. Naderi and K. Heidarbeigi
Department of Agricultural Machinery Engineering, Faculty of Biosystem Engineering,
University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran
Abstract: Physical properties often required for designing the equipments for planting, harvesting and
postharvesting operations of seeds. Several physical properties of three popular wheat varieties (Shiraz,
Karoun and Shiroudy) were determined and compared for moisture content in 8, 12 and 18% w.b in 2007
in University of Tehran. The average length, width and thickness were 6.75, 3.26 and 2.77 mm at a moisture
content of 8% w.b., respectively. studies on rewetted wheat seeds showed that the thousand-kernel weight
increased from 18.38 to 22.43g. The geometric and equivalent mean diameter, surface area, sphericity and
aspect ratio at a moisture content of 8% w.b were 3.93, 3.94 mm, 48.68 mm2, 0.58, 0.48, respectively. The
porosity increased from 0.43 to 0.45 %. Whereas the bulk density decreased from 0.72 to 0.66kg m-3 and the
true density from 1.25 to 1.19 kg m-3, with an increasing in the moisture content range of 8B18% w.b. The
static and dynamic angle of repose varied from 37.28 to 47.33 and 29.89 to 36.5o. The mean of static friction
coefficient of three wheat varieties increased the linearly against surfaces of three structural materials,
namely, compressed plastic (0.43 - 0.53), galvanized iron (0.33 - 0.53) and plywood (0.35 - 0.41) as the
moisture content increased from 8 to 18% w.b.
Key words: Physical property, wheat, moisture content, equipment design
Bulk density can indicate the degree of kernel filling
during growth and therefore an indicator of quality and
predicated in breakage susceptibility and hardness
studies, milling and baking qualities (Chang, 1988).
Kernel and bulk density data have been used in
research on determining the dielectric properties of
cereal grains (Nelson and You, 1989) and for
determining volume fractions for use in dielectric mixture
equations (Nelson, 1992). Porosity, on the other hand,
allows gases, such as air and liquids to flow through a
mass of particles in aeration, drying, heating, cooling
and distillation operations.
The static coefficient of friction and angle of repose is
necessary to design conveying machine and hopers
used in planter machines.
The objective of current study was to determine some
physical properties of wheat seeds at 8% moisture
content such as dimensions, equivalent and geometric
diameter, sphericity surface area, volume and then other
properties under effect of moisture content variation
such as true and bulk density, thousand grain kernel,
porosity, static coefficient of friction against deferent
materials and angle of repose.

The total wheat farmland in Iran is 6.41 million hectares,
that Khorasan province has the most of that (10.85%).
The annual wheat production is 13.44 million tons that
Fars province includes the maximum of that
(Anonymous, 2003). In the design of machines,
structures, processing and controls to be used in
productions, handling and processing of food and
agricultural products, certain physical characteristics
and engineering properties of the materials should
constitute important and essential engineering data
(Mohsenin, 1986).
To design a machine for handling, cleaning, conveying,
storing and milling, the physical properties of wheat at
moisture contents must be known
(Tabatabaeefar, 2003).
Principal axial dimensions of rough rice grains are
useful in selecting sieve separators and in calculating
power during the seed milling process. They can also
be used to calculate surface area and volume of kernels
which are important during modeling of grain drying,
aeration, heating and cooling (Ghasemi Varnamkhasti
et al., 2007). The rate of heat transfer to the material also
significantly depends on the heat transfer surface. The
smaller the volume of material per unit surface, the
better its condition for rapid heat transfer. The effects of
size and surface area on drying rates of particulate
materials can also be characterized by using the surface
to volume ratio. When diffusion of water within the
particle limits drying rate, larger particles dry more slowly
than smaller particles of the same shape. Also, the ratio
of surface area to volume affects drying time and energy
requirements (Stroshine and Hamann, 1998).

Materials and Methods

Three popular varieties of cleaned wheat (Shiraz, Karoun
and Shiroudy) were obtained from Plant and Seed
Institute in Tehran, capital of Iran. The initial moisture
content of seeds was determined by oven method
(Tabatabaeefar, 2003). And in order to approach the
desired moisture level as 8, 12 and 18% w.b., the
rewetting formula was used Eq (1) and to allow the

Karimi et al.: The Effect of Moisture Content on Physical Properties of Wheat

Fig. 1: Apparatus to determine empting angle of repose.

Fig. 2: Apparatus to determine coefficient of static friction.

moisture be absorbed by samples were placed in



(Mf - Mi)
------------(100 - Mf)

)W w = W t


(W + T )

Ra =

Dg = (LDT)1/3



The sphericity (Sp) defined as the ratio of the surface

area of the sphere having the same volume as that of
the grain to the surface area of the grain, was
determined using following formula (Mohsenin, 1986).


Dk - Db
g = -------- x100

Thousand kernel wheat (TKW) was measured by

counting 100 seeds and weighing them in an electronic
balance to an accuracy of .001g and then multiplied by
10 to give mass of 1000 kernels.
Jain and Bal (1997) have considered seed volume, V
and surface area, S may be given by:

S = ---------(2L - B)




The coefficient of static friction was determined with

respect to different surfaces: Plywood, compressed
plastic and galvanized iron. A hollow metal cylinder (Fig.
1) of diameter 75mm and depth 50mm and open at both
ends was filled with the seeds at the desired moisture
content and placed on adjustable titling surface such
that the metal cylinder did not touche the surface. Then
the surface was raised gradually until the filled cylinder
just started to slide down (Razavi and Milani, 2006). The
emptying angle of repose is the angle with the horizontal
at which the material will stand when piled. This was
determined by using the apparatus (Fig. 2) consisting of
a plywood box of 140-160-35 mm and two plates: fixed
and adjustable (Tabatabaeefar, 2003). The box was
filled with the sample and then the adjustable plate was
inclined gradually allowing the seeds to follow and
assume a natural slope.


V = 0.25 L (W + T )2


The true density is the ratio of the mass sample of

seeds to its pure volume. It was determined by the
toluene displacement method (Mohsenin, 1986). And
the bulk density is the ratio of the mass sample of the
seeds to its total volume. It was determined by filling a
predefined container with from a constant high, striking
the top level and then weighing the constants
(Deshpande et al., 1993; Gupta and Das, 1997; Konak
et al., 2002; Paksoy and Aydin, 2004).
The porosity is the ratio of free space between kernels to
the total of bulk seeds. That was computed as:


The aspect ratio (Ra) was calculated by (Omobuwajo et

al., 1999).

Where )W w, mass of water added, W t, total seeds mass,

Mi, initial moisture content, Mf, final moisture content.
A vernier caliper was used to determine length, width
and thickness of about 50 randomly selected seeds of
each sample. The geometric mean, Dg and equivalent
diameter, Dp, in mm was calculated by considering
prolate spheroid shape for a wheat grain and hence Eq
(2) and Eq (3) respectively (Mohsenin, 1986).
Dp =



Karimi et al.: The Effect of Moisture Content on Physical Properties of Wheat

Table 1: Several dimensional properties of three wheat varieties






Fig. 3: Effect of moisture content on the bulk density.

Fig. 4. Effect of moisture content on the true density.

Results and Discussion

The true density of the wheat was measured at different

moisture levels and was found to be negatively
correlated and varied from 1.25 to 1.19gcm-3 (Fig. 4). The
variation in true density with the increasing in moisture
content was significant with a value for:

The mean and standard deviations of 50 measurements

of the dimensions of each wheat variety at moisture
content of 8 % is presented in Table 1. Wheat width and
thickness values practically did not present significant
differences among the cultivars, but there were
significant differences between the cultivars at the 5%
level of probability among the lengths of the studied
varieties. It also indicated that the length of the Shiroudi
variety was the longest but the sphericity and aspect
ratio of that were the least of all.
The grain volume values for Shiraz, Karoun and Shiroudi
cultivars were 35.39, 29.30 and 32.81 mm3, respectively.
The highest geometric and equivalent mean diameter
and Surface area values were obtained for Shiraz variety.
Bulk density at different moisture levels varied from 0.72
to 0.66gcm-3 and indicated a decrease in bulk density
with an increasing in moisture content with significant
(probability < 0.01) variations as shown in Fig. 3. The
bulk density of seed was found to bear the following
relationship with moisture content:

Dt = -0.0063M + 1.3063, R2 = 0.99

The average value for true density of winter wheat was
reported (Nelson, 1980), as 1.34 gcm-3 at 11.4%
moisture content higher than the value found in this
study, 1.23gcm-3 at 18% moisture content. However,
there is the results were similar to that in this study
reported by Ozarslan (2002) for cotton, Gupta and
Prakash, 1992 for sofflower and Singh and Goswami
(1996) for cumin seed. But Ogut, 1998 reported the
reverse result and stated an increase in true density with
an increase in moisture content for white Lupin (varied
from 980 to 1103 kg/m3). This result may be due to the
biological differences between wheat and white Lupin
There was a variation from 42.93 to 44.87% for the
porosity at the moisture levels. This variation was
presented in the equation as:

Db = -0.0059M + 0.7639 R2=0.99

This decreasing relation is due to the fact that an
increasing in mass owing to moisture gain in the grain
sample was lower than the accompanying volumetric
expansion of the bulk (Tabatabaeefar, 2003). The
negative relationship of bulk density with moisture
content was also observed by various other research
works (Carman, 1996; Duttas et al., 1988; Gupta and
Prakash, 1990; Shepherd and Bhardwaj, 1986).
Mohsenin (1986) has shown that bulk density at 11.9%
moisture content for wheat was higher, 767 kgm-3, than
the value found in this study, at 18% moisture content
(715.29kg m-3).

g = 0.193M + 41.415, R2 = 1.00

Baumler et al., 2004, reported an increase in porosity
against moisture content variations and have then
evaluated the relationship between porosity and
moisture content for safflower seed as:
g = 39.53 + 0.34M, R2 = 0.93
One thousand kernel weight (TKW) was increased
significantly at 5% level of probability from 18.38 to


Karimi et al.: The Effect of Moisture Content on Physical Properties of Wheat

Fig. 5: Effect of moisture content on the porosity.

Fig. 7: Effect of moisture content on static coefficient of

friction: ()) plywood; () compressed plastic and
(~) galvanized iron.

Fig. 6: Effect of moisture content on the TKW.

22.43g as the moisture content increased from 8% to
18% w.b. (Fig. 6). Linear Relationship for one thousand
kernel weight based on moisture content, M, was
determined as follow:

Fig. 8: Effect of moisture content on dynamic () and

static (~) angle of repose.
highest static coefficient of friction were on compressed
plastic. This may be owing to more unpolished surface
of the compressed plastic than the other materials used.
The relationships between static coefficient of friction
and moisture content on compressed plastic, plywood
and galvanized iron can be represented by the following
equations, respectively:

TKW = 0.4043M + 15.182 R2= 1.00

A linear increase in the one thousand kernel weight as
the seed moisture content increases has been noted by
Sacilik et al. (2003) for hemp and Karababa (2006), for
popcorn. And Tabatabaeefar (2003) for wheat
represented that the TKW increased linearly from 23.2g
to 39.7g when the moisture content increased from 0 to
22% d.b.
The static coefficient of friction of wheat grain on three
surfaces (compressed plastic, plywood and galvanized
iron) against moisture content in the range 8% to 18%
w.b. are presented in Fig. 7. It was observed that the
static coefficient of friction increased against
compressed plastic, plywood with 5% probability level
and galvanized iron with 1% probability level with
increase in moisture content. This is due to the
increased adhesion between the grains and the
material surfaces at higher moisture values. Increases
of 22.94%, 16.01% and 58.9% were recorded in the
case of compressed plastic, plywood and galvanized
iron, respectively, as the moisture content increased
from 8% to 18% w.b. At all moisture contents, the


= 0.0105M + 0.3593, R2 = 0.97

Ngalv = 0.019M + 0.1778, R2 = 1.00

Nplyw = 0.0058M + 0.3037, R2 = 0.96
Similar results were found by Sahoo and Srivastava
(2002), Ozarslan (2002), Tabatabaeefar (2003), Bulent
Coskun et al. (2005) and Shepherd and Bhardwaj
(1986) for okra, cotton, lentil, wheat, sweet corn and
pigeon pea seeds, respectively.
Parde et al. (2003) reported that the friction coefficient
against plywood, galvanized steel and concrete surfaces
for the Koto buckwheat cultivar increased significantly
0.26 to 0.31, 0.25 to 0.29 and 0.38 to 0.43 respectively,
with increase in moisture content from 14.8% to 17.9%.

Karimi et al.: The Effect of Moisture Content on Physical Properties of Wheat

The experimental results for the static and dynamic
angle of repose with respect to moisture content are
shown in Fig. 8. The values of the static and dynamic
angle of repose were found to increase significantly at
the 1% level of probability from 37.28 to 47.33 1 and from
29.89 to 36.51, respectively in the moisture range of 8 to
18 % w.b. The static and dynamic angle of repose for
wheat has the following relationships with its moisture

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2s = 1.0022M + 29.361, R2 = 1.00

2d = 0.663M + 24.528, R2 = 1.00
Tabatabaeefar (2003) found that the values of dynamic
angle of repose for wheat increased from 34.7 to 45E in
the moisture range of 0 to 22% d.b. Parde et al. (2003)
reported that the emptying angle of repose for Koto
buckwheat cultivar remained constant at about 23.5E
from 14.8 to 15.8% moisture content and then increased
significantly and the filling angle of repose did not differ
significantly at 14.8 to 16.6% but increased significantly
to 28.4E at 17.9%.
Conclusion: The various properties measured will serve
as a useful tool in process and equipment design and
this will go a long way in assisting to improve yield and
quality of wheat grains. The following conclusions are
drawn from this investigation into the properties of wheat
In this work some dimensional properties of three wheat
varieties were determined and compared on their 8%
moisture content. By investigation the effect of moisture
content on other physical properties of those, were
concluded that the porosity, static and dynamic angle of
repose and static friction coefficient of all three wheat
varieties against different materials (compressed
plastic, galvanized iron and plywood) were increased
with increase in moisture content. Whereas the bulk and
true density were decreased with an increase in
moisture content in wheat grains.

The authors would like to thank university of Tehran for
full support and Plant and Seed Institute of Tehran, Iran
for providing the wheat grains for this project.

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Bulent Coskun, M., I. Yalcin and C. Ozarslan, 2005.
Physical properties of sweet corn seed (Zeamays
saccharata Sturt.). J. Food Eng., 74: 523-528.

Karimi et al.: The Effect of Moisture Content on Physical Properties of Wheat

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length, mm
width, mm
thickness, mm
thousand kernel weight, g
geometric mean diameter, mm
equivalent diameter, mm
volume, mm3
sphericity, %
bulk density, kgm-3
true density, kgm-3
porosity, %

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dependent physical properties of pigeon pea. J.
Agric. Engg. Res., 35: 227-234.
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properties of cumin seed. J. Agric. Eng. Res., 64:
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Properties of Agricultural Materials and Food
Products. Course Manual, Purdue University,
Tabatabaeefar, A., 2003. Moisture-dependent physical
properties of wheat. Int. Agrophysics, 17: 207-211.

)W t


static coefficient of friction

static angle of repose, deg
dynamic angle of repose, deg
surface area, mm2
correlation determination
aspect ratio
moisture content, %
initial moisture content, %
final moisture content, %
total weight of sample, g
weight of required water, g